November 2015 Focus

blenheimFocusNov15The latest Focus for Blenheim Park ward features Cllr Graham Longley. I suspect he will not be seeking re-election in May, although I note that there has been no official announcement as yet.

I wish him a speedy recovery (and judging by what I have seen he is doing just that).

Lib Dems in the East

A look at the Liberal Democrat General Election performances in the East of England.

Top five Lib Dem performances in the East:

39.1% North Norfolk
34.9% Cambridge
27.5% Colchester
20.2% South East Cambridgeshire
18.5% St Albans

The worst performances:

1.3% Thurrock
1.8% Castle Point
1.8% Clacton
2.0% Harlow
2.0% Waveney

The worst performances see four from Essex (which has to be set against their Colchester performance), and this suggests they have a problem in my home county. The common link amongst these five (and others which are near contenders for this list) is that they all are seats which have had Labour representation in the recent past.

North Norfolk has the only Liberal Democrat MP for the East of England. This represents a loss of three.

The story of the May General Election is the story of a collapsing Liberal Democrat vote. Of the fifty-eight Eastern constituencies, twenty-three saw the Lib Dems fail to hold their deposit.

As regards to swings, the Lib Dems may take a little comfort from Cambridge and Clacton insofar that there were swings their way from the Tories – but then look at those results.

The biggest swings against the Liberal Democrats:

15.8% Chelmsford (to Labour)
15.1% Chelmsford (to Conservative)
14.6% North West Norfolk (to Labour)
14.2% Huntingdon (to Labour)
14.2% South Suffolk (to Conservative)
14.0% South Suffolk (to Labour)

If Lib Dem voters want to stop the Tories in Southend then they must back Labour

Lib Dem bar charts are usually a sign of their desperation. These charts are engineered to show just how wonderful they are, and how it is only they who can stop the Tories.

But hang on, haven’t they been backing the Tories for the last five years?

Yep, you are not mistaken – Nick Clegg has been David Cameron’s loyal deputy since 2010.

Now, let’s have a look at the votes in Southend-on-Sea since 2010.

Lab LDem Con
2010 14.9% 25.6% 36.4%
2011 19.4% 18.0% 36.4%
2012 19.3% 13.9% 32.7%
2014 19.0% 13.0% 30.3%

This clearly shows that the Lib Dem vote has almost halved in the borough over the last five years. It also shows that if the Lib Dem supporters backed Labour then we could rid the town of its two Tory MPs.


Peter Gwidzala

GwidzalaThe Liberal Democrats will be pleased if they save their deposit in Rochford and Southend East. Their late, late selection of Ipswich-based Peter Gwidzala is ample evidence of the straits they are in in this constituency.

I am pretty sure that Mr Gwidzala’s “All or Nothing” quote is not a reference to his fondness for The Small Faces. His leaflet is a mass of contradictions (what does “Peter doesn’t worry but he will worry” actually mean?), but it is clear that he intends to defend his party’s role in Government. Good luck with that one.

The Liberal Democrat’s ruse of trying to be all things to all people has well and truly been exposed over the last five years. Peter can make whatever promises he wants – I doubt anyone is going to believe either him or his party.

St Laurence Focus

stLaurenceFocusI struggle to imagine anything but a derisory vote for the Liberal Democrats locally. It is difficult to find a good reason for anyone still wanting to express their suffrage by voting for a party that has backed Cameron and Osborne all the way. If you like the Tories you may as well vote for them, if you don’t then you have to go with Labour. Anything else is just a wasted vote.

I don’t know Carole Roast, but I have known Ted Lewin for some time. They are both former councillors in St Laurence, and both shown the door after the coalition was formed. I cannot see that door opening again for them any time soon.

Lib Dem candidate says ‘Hopefully we can stay in coalition with the Conservatives’

At Tuesday’s Rochford and Southend East hustings, organised by the Southend Echo, the Liberal Democrat candidate Peter Gwizdala made a couple of astonishing statements.

First, he stated: ‘Hopefully we can stay in coalition with the Conservatives’.

Then he added: ‘Hopefully we can finish the job we started’

So, there you have it, if any further proof be needed. Vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories in power.

Of course, I suggest you avoid both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats – they are both as bad as each other.

The leaders’ debate

I watched this, and learned little. This was never going to be a platform for new policy announcements, rather a minefield for the gaffe prone. I think all seven avoided any major mistakes. It did allow us, the voters, to compare, and here are my admittedly biased impressions.

Natalie Bennett (Green) was the weakest. She clearly learned from some pretty damaging interviews, but came across as humourless and naive. I like the Greens when they talk about the environment, I dislike them when it comes to the economy, jobs and the like.

Nigel Farage (UKIP) is normally a warm and engaging performer. Somehow this format did not suit him, and my impression was that a serious debate was a step too far. His attempt to label everyone else as ‘all the same’, and to blame all of society’s ills on foreigners and the EU just showed how vacuous UKIP’s message is.

Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat) came across as a beaten man. At times there were flashes of the 2010 Clegg, but far too often you could see the impending cliff-edge for his Parliamentary party etched on his face. Now his party has been under the harsh glare of administration it is very hard to play the ‘all things to all men’ game anymore. I could not get away from the thought, every time he appeared to challenge the Prime Minister, that here was a man who had five years to do something about it. Instead, he has spent five years more or less giving Cameron whatever he wanted.

Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) was too parochial. Despite her wonderful Welsh lilt, her message seemed to lack any real weight, and whilst she must push hard for Wales and her Welsh voters, she demonstrated why regional parties should not be admitted to national debates. Doubtless many beyond Offa’s Dyke will have found something to cheer about, the rest of the UK must have wondered what her contribution would do for them.

Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) was very good, and I am no fan of nationalism or nationalists. She somehow managed to overcome parochialism and deliver a punchy message. Her style was suited to this stage, although I still wonder why a party that only represents a fraction of the UK was admitted to this debate. I watched and wondered how Alex Salmond managed to keep her at bay for so long for clearly she is a better performer than her predecessor as leader of the SNP.

David Cameron (Conservative) was actually pretty good. This format, of seven leaders, allowed him some cover, yet when he spoke he did so with some authority. Those who have Conservative principles will have found little fault. I still found him a bit evasive, but am pleased that he managed to leave the aggressive and bullying side of him at home.

Ed Miliband (Labour) can appear awkward at times. Last night he struck me as relaxed, and he delivered his lines pretty well. He is always going to be more about the message than about how the message is given. He was confident, his body language was good, and he showed some humour. He had the strongest message. As only one of two likely Prime Ministers on display he also had weight behind his argument, and he managed to augment this with considerable gravitas.

Doubtless my views will not agree with everyone else’s. I have listed the leaders in order of who I thought was best; I call it an Ed victory, just ahead of Cameron (in terms of presentation). In terms of policy the order would be somewhat different, with Ed still winning but with a considerable margin over the others.

This time it’s the Liberal Democrats in Leigh who are no respecter of the rules

Focus on Leigh 2The latest election literature from Southend West’s Liberal Democrats shows it is not just the Tories who can cheat the rules – their Governmental marriage partners can also show contempt for fair play.

There is a theme developing amongst councillors seeking re-election. They are plastering their leaflets with their councillor email addresses, and this is wrong.

As a colleague put it: “Public money cannot be used for purposes of political campaigning. The infrastructure for the council’s email system is paid for with public money.”

I believe that their councillor telephone numbers are also being shown.

That aside, I really do not understand their fondness for A3 – and I know that Labour also produces A3 editions of its literature. However, notwithstanding my bias, I really do believe ours are of a better quality.

If nothing else, the Lib Dems ought to invest in a decent camera.

Anyway, according to them they all but walk on water. The reality, as most voters will recognise, is that they do not. They have betrayed their supporters by giving Cameron and his Conservatives everything they want. Nick Clegg’s party have been punished since 2010 for propping up a very right-wing Government, and I expect this punishment will continue in May.

Whilst Peter Wexham waxes lyrical on past glories, he neglects to remind readers that it is his party that has inflicted savage cuts to council budgets. The near-loss of Leigh library, for instance, would have had Lib Dem fingerprints all over it.

If you don’t want the Tories don’t vote for the party that put them into power.

Prittlewell Focus Spring 2015

Prittlewell FocusPrittlewell ward is currently represented by three councillors from different parties. We have an Independent, a Liberal Democrat, and someone from UKIP. It is the Independent who is up for re-election, except that Cllr Ric Morgan has decided that enough is enough.

To the best of my knowledge there is no putative Independent replacement, and this will be a gain for someone.

Labour’s Tony Borton is very busy on the campaign trail. There is also a Conservative candidate, and the UKIP candidate has made a fleeting appearance.

A late entrant into the fray is Colin Davis, Liberal Democrat. He stood in Milton in 2012 (against me) and played no real role in the contest then. It remains to be seen whether Mr Davis MBE can find the time to trample the highways and byways of Prittlewell during the next six weeks.

Ric Morgan was a Liberal Democrat when elected in 2011 (he subsequently left that party to join the Liberal Party). Anything but a Lib Dem win this time would technically be a loss for that party. I find it hard to imagine anything but defeat for them here, and it is hoped that all those who previously voted Lib Dem will switch to Labour – a party genuinely opposed to the Conservatives.

Lib Dems in Government

danny alexander lib dems in govt